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Family Photo Albums & Hometowns

A perfect opportunity to identify photos in family albums is during the holiday week when you can visit with relatives. Never attempt to label all the photos, but even a handful will help you later in some additional research. If you are going to a relative’s house and they don’t have any family photos and you do, bring them along. Share them with others to get some names linked to the photos.

Make the get-together a bit of a contest. See who can bring the oldest photo, who has the most, who has photos on the most individual ancestors, etc. See who can match baby photos to the adult in later photos.

Never write, especially with ink, on the back or sides of a photo. Actually use two different methods. Have a notepad to write the names, dates, location or any other information relating to a photo. Use a code number to match the photo with the notepad information. Plus a self-sticking label can be used to write information and then that placed on the back.

If you are really ambitious you can bring a portable photo scanner or locally rent one to scan the photos also and add the label information. Any photos you already have in digital format which you have questions on, bring them on a flash drive or disc to play on a laptop and have family members help identify individuals, places or events. Even sometimes just one little bit of information, a person’s first name, a surname or a hometown can lead you in the right direction.

Holidays many times are spent in a family’s traditional hometown. Use that opportunity to check out the local museum. Just one hour or two might provide a treasure chest of new information. Many have files, photos and displays that relate directly to the town’s earlier citizens. When asking them, bring a list of any family surnames, even those you are not sure lived in that town, you never know what might turn up.

Another location in a hometown to visit is the public library. See what older local newspapers they have on microfilm to view or in digital format you can read over. Most won’t be indexed unless they are digital. However, the potential of new discoveries is tremendous. It is always best to the do the looking yourself, since you are more familiar with the family names. See if the library has separate notebooks, booklets, books, films, etc on the local history. Again another source where an ancestor’s name and what they did just might appear.

The end of December and into the new year are great opportunities to get together with family, reminisce, do more one-on-one research and expand that family tree even further.

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